Tuesday, December 29, 2015

HAPPY NEW YEAR

I honestly don't know how people manage social media between blogging, fb, twitter, instagram, pinterest, and periscope its really a bit too much!  I gave up on twitter and myspace a long time ago. I love to blog, facebook, pinterest and I'm new to instagram.  Just those few...is still too much for me! Anyways, all that to say...I want to focus in on what I love in 2016, and that is what my post is about tonight. I'm not 100% sure what next year is going to look like. I don't want to put God in a box and clarify what I AM going to do next year.  I want to be open to what HE wants to do with me next year. I do have a few things He has given me already...

If it doesn't bring you JOY, get rid of it! That will be my motto to help me decide what stays and what goes. I have too much stuff. Most people do. Do you? I have stuff that doesn't fill me up. Its clutter. It adds to my overwhelming feeling of excess. A friend once said, "if you have too much of anything, you have stolen from the poor." Too many coats? Shoes? Coffee mugs? You get the idea. Some purge in the Spring, I'm going to purge all year long. If it doesn't fill me up and bring me joy...it will find a new home!

While studying Romans 14 this past week I heard loud and clear ETERNAL SIGNIFICANCE. I want to focus on things of value in light of eternity. I don't want to nit pick about the clothes people wear, the food we eat, music enjoyed, the way we pray etc. I'm convinced Jesus calls us to something so much more profound and geniune than all that "stuff" (that in light of eternity is of little value).

I'm convicted along with the eternal significance process to invest more into my children. Yes, I homeschool, but even with that its so easy to get focused on academics, that the heart is neglected. Ouch! I know! I don't want to make that mistake. I want to be intentional with the little souls God has entrusted to me and my husband. I hope to spend more time with them one on one. More time talking about worldview vs kingdom view (google Tony Evan's Kingdom Kids...its a great resource). I want to hear more of their own thoughts, opinions, and ideas. They are growing up so fast!

Several people I follow on fb this past year have battled cancer. Ugly, heart wrenching, life changing cancer. It put things into perspective. I want to be intentional about making good memories with my family. This past May Brett and I spent our 10 year anniversary in Jamaica. It was wonderful! Beautiful! We sooooooo needed it.  And for Christmas this year, we went to Pa. Spent time with grandparents, great grandparents (another eye opener). Both of Brett's grandmothers are in their 90's living in an assisted living home. Wow. It was precious to be able to see them with our kids. They matter. We took our kids to Hershey Park for their Christmas Candy Lane...watching my children's faces light up was priceless. It was the highlight of my Christmas vacation. Lord willing 2016 will have many more fantastic memories...a grandbaby is expected in July! So exciting!!!! Maybe a trip to Hawaii...Brett?

I will continue a woman's Bible study I started with my friend Kris. Its beautiful to meet with other woman and explore God's Word together. We will begin Passion Pursuit in January. In April I will attend Hearts at Home in Peoria IL with a few of the women from this group, as well as some others. That is always a highlight of my year! I highly recommend it to all women.

I'm a retired scrapbooker. Seriously with my kiddos and homeschooling I had to give it up. There was no more time. I sold almost everything. And then...low and behold, just recently fell IN LOVE with Bible journaling and art journaling. Journaling, journaling, journaling...it feeds my soul. I hope to learn more and create more through this avenue.  Plus my kids enjoy doing it with me.

I'm excited about 2016. How about you? What are your hopes and dreams? What will you spend time enjoying? Who will you invest in / serve? What feeds your soul? How will you give God glory?

Happy New Year!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Carried to the Table

Well, here we are.  I average a post a month (pathetic I know). Maybe when I go on my facebook fast I'll write more here!
Brett and I are listening to Grace Awakening by Chuck Swindoll.  Its soooo good.  Go out and buy it now, you won't regret it. We are on disc 5/15 and he's discussing what GRACE looked like during King David's time. In 2 Samuel 9...we have King David asking if anyone is left from Saul's lineage. The maid responds that Jonathan has a crippled son Mephibosheth. King David sends for him and promises to restore all of Saul's land to him.  And he makes good on his promise.

Its a beautiful story. I say to Brett, "wow its so touching, it sounds a bit like that song CARRIED TO THE TABLE we have been enjoying this week." A quick google and boom..."When asked about the story behind "Carried to the Table", said, "One of the evangelists [my family] traveled with for two years had a message that spoke about that story of Mephibosheth in 2 Samuel. His message moved me so much that I fell in love with that story and couldn’t get it out of my head. He related [the story] in the message to how God carries us to the table. Things I can’t get out of my head, I make songs out of them. I sat in my room and prayed to God about it. I worked on [the song] two days and finally finished it.

I can't tell you how much I enjoy these sporadic moments when God connects. I'm still in awe and blessed by this story and this song. Study the Word of God and watch for the Lord to connect with you.  HAPPY THANKSGIVING!


Thursday, October 15, 2015

A lifetime of learning

I'm stubborn and hard headed.  Sometimes it takes me a few (ok, maybe more than a few) lessons before I "get it."  I'm just being honest.  Brett and I have so much on our plates right now.  We only have two nights a week that are not commited to something. But I must say, adding my Monday night Women's Bible study has been a blessing. I have been going for a few months now and I appreciate how much I learn from it. Pouring over scripture that I have already read many times before, but seeing it in a different light! Brett and I also have been more diligent about our mornings together before he leaves for work.  God has been using that time to draw us closer to him and each other. I want to share somethings from these blessed times.  Please feel free to comment, add your thoughts. dig deeper and see if God is exposing something to you too.

~To be justified does NOT mean "just as if I'd never sinned."  This weakens the full impact of justification.  It really means; even though I still sin periodically and have found myself unable to stop sinning on a perament basis - God declared me righteous when I believed.  And because I will continue to sin from time to time, I find all the more reason to be grateful for grace. As a sinner I DESERVE vengeance. As a sinner I'm afraid of justice.  As a sinner my only hope for survival is grace.  In its purest form, it makes no earthly sense! -Charles Swindoll The Grace Awakening Devotional

Wow...I just love it.  I love all of it. I can embrace my brokeness, I know that I am a sinner. I have a much harder time wrapping my head around my sovereign gracious father's love for me...unconditionally, without abandonment.  Not matter how bad I screw it up. Its so much better than I deserve. My heart's desire is to walk in His light, not in darkness. I appreciate that the author spends time addressing those who abuse grace, and use it as a means to continue sinning. This is a great read...pick it up!

Here are a couple thoughts from "Creative Counterpart" by Linda Dillow

~Do you give 100%?  Or do you give 50?  What's your 100%?  To trust and obey.
Learning to trust and obey takes repetition and discipline.

Can I get an AMEN? Right here...this is where I trip up. The repetition and discipline part.  I can hope someday I get it right! I'm so tired of laying something down at the feet of Jesus, just to have picked it back up less than 10 minutes later.  Seriously! The author goes into detail on page 37 of this process...its reassuring that she makes mention this process takes a LIFETIME!







Friday, September 25, 2015

I love Fall.  The cool crisp mornings, the falling leaves, harvest time in Illinois...brrr. This morning I'm wrapped up in a shawl I made for my Great Grandmother.  She passed away and the shawl came back to me.  I love it, as did she.  Its warm. It reminds me of her. I can still see the smile on her face when she unwrapped it.  I miss her so much. She was wise in her years.  A beautiful strong Christian woman.

I'm embarrassed. I remember being a wild child, a rebellious and disrespectful teenager. I mocked her wisdom and direction when she tried to speak into my life. And now I would give anything for her insight, her encouragement, her wisdom.

I'm almost 40 years old now and I'm eager to learn the ways of the Lord. I crave that wisdom my great grandmother had. The word wisdom appears in the Bible more than 200 times. 200!

This morning while I'm snuggled up in my grandmother's shawl I'm going to continue to dig deeper into God's Word where wisdom can be found, faith can be restored, and real relationship with my Father happens. I want to be wise like my grandma when I'm 80 and pray my kids (and great grandkids, gulp) will not be like I once was.



James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Birthday Party

I have a tiny Hummingbird perched right outside my kitchen window, which my cat is stalking, but the Hummer doesn't care!  The breeze is cool and crisp at 6:16am and its going to be a gorgeous day. I'm excited to see what the Lord has in store!
Yesterday we celebrated Z's (7th) and Silas's (4th) birthdays.  It was a GREAT time. We had the pool, trampoline, bubble wands, tire swing and club house...all in full use!  And I loved every minute of it. I love seeing the smiles on their face as they enjoy their friends. The days are long and the years are short. I could go deep with this post but I'm not...I'm just going to soak up how great life is right now and share some pictures with you.  Its not always great, lots of days are hard.  I'm pretty sure God gives us the good days to get us through the rough days.  Something to look forward to and something to hang on to. (Pictures are not in order)  Enjoy...
 Look at those lips!
 He is being a goof...he claims he hates having his picture taken.  Poor kid...I love taking pictures!
 She LOVES and ADORES her Pappy Tim.  She even said, "HE LOOKED AT MY WISH LIST!" (b/c he bought her the stroller she has wanted for her baby dolls)
 My precious son KNOWS how to eat cake!
 Alyssa and her Daddy trying to master bubbles.
 Our wonderful neighbors Ray & Brandee came over after their trip to the Dinosaur show (hence the claw painted on her face). Silas...I have no idea!
 Our Homemade Minion Pinata up for a beatin'.


 Look at all those great kids!!!  There were quite a few gone due to illness and family vacations, approx 15-20 kids absent!  Yes, we love to have our yard full of fun!  Can u imagine?!  And even MORE if all the cousins could have made it.  Who really believes homeschooled kids don't have a social life...seriously?
 The loot!  My sweet niece Launah asked, "Will you have goodie bags?"  I love her!  I forgot to upload the picture of her licking my arm...true story!
 I love their precious little faces.
 Z has two cupcakes to fit 7 candles in! I laugh a little because what u don't see...is my perfectionism.  Its my enemy. And this picture not only shows my babies growing up, but it also shows my growth. I'm learning to breath and roll with the little things.  They are way more fun that way.  Nothing wrong with two cupcakes right!
 Cake, ice cream, chips, pretzels, cookies, Kool-Aid (kid crack...allowed ONLY at birthday parties) and ofcourse candy!
 My dear friend Meg and her daughter Madeline. I love Meg. She has always been my encouraging friend, especially when it comes to homeschooling and child raising. She remembers my pre-homeschool days when I kept shaking my head no!  She is a blessing in my life and Maddie too...her and Zahavah are so much alike!
 Aunt Jane and Z.
 Silas opening his Star Wars action figures from Grandma Laura.
 Z's gift from Aunt Jane...she knows we love stickers! (Z is holding a little horse in her hand too).  One can never have too many stickers!  Even if they are stuck to my kitchen floor...right?
 Zahavah and Alyssa share a love for girlie things and sweet Miah peeking in.
 Like I said...Z and Maddie LOVE a lot of the same things...baby dolls, playing house.  (Maddie has real glass bottles in her kitchen set...and Z is sure her kitchen set needs some too.)  I love their imaginations. Here Z is opening her AG Bitty Twins from Mom, Dad, Siblings and Grandma Laura.
 Ben is one of the cutest little fellas I know!  He is swinging with my beautiful grandbaby Kenzley.
Z, Maddie and Alyssa with her new babies and new stroller.
I'm bummed that I don't have any close ups of Miah, Autumn and the other Goff kids.  Its all good...memories were made and fun was had...that's what matters most!
I went to bed praising the Lord and feeling so blessed.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Forgiveness

Yep I'm writing on it again, because its something I have to revisit often. And when a song comes along that inspires me to press on...I wanna share it with the world.  Here it is "Drops in the Ocean" by Hawk Nelson, please go to YouTube and have a listen:

I want you as you are, not as you ought to be
Won't you lay down your guard and come to me
The shame that grips you now is crippling
It breaks my heart to see you suffering

Cause I am for you
I'm not against you

If you want to know
How far my love can go
Just how deep, just how wide
If you want to see 
How much you mean to me
Look at my hands, look at my side
If you could count the times I say you are forgiven
It's more than the drops in the ocean

Don't think you need to settle for a substitute 
When I'm the only love that changes you

Open your heart
It's time that we start again

Do you get stuck?  I get stuck. I get tangled up in the mess of my pain, the offense, the rejection, the betrayal.  Satan knows that and he uses it to pull me down, keep me bitter and separated.  Rolling around in my self-pity, doubt and despair.  Yuck!

When I heard this song, I played it several times over and over imaging the huge waves in the middle of the ocean, the beautiful deep blue.  Just how many drops? More than my mind can grasp. The song was inspired by Micah 7:19 "You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea."

Isn't that amazing?  More than I can fathom.  As far as the east is from the west (another great song too, by Casting Crowns).  I can't grasp that amount or that distance!

But I can rest in knowing that it is TRUE! I can rejoice that even though its more than I can comprehend he loves me THAT much! You too!

And its there...when I am called to forgive...that I have to pause and remember what my Father has done for me. Daily surrender my human fleshly desire to stay mad and grab ahold to my Christlike ability to forgive.  It is Christlike and only possible with Him living through me, because on my own...IT WILL NOT HAPPEN.  On my own its ugly. But with Christ all things really are possible...even undeserved forgiveness.

Are you there...needing to forgive?  Surely I am not alone. Is it hard for you too? Its a two part process.  I have to accept that forgiveness from my Father for myself and rest in it; before I can even begin to extend it. It is a daily process for me. I don't want to be stuck in the ugly.  I want to live in the freedom of Jesus Christ and ALL He has to offer.

Have a Blessed Monday!

PS: Just another little note that has blessed me this week.  Its from Linda Dillow's book "Calm My Anxious Heart."   "Abiding is our obligation.  Producing fruit is God's concern.  Seek fellowship with Jesus and leave the fruit to him."

Friday, July 31, 2015

Hard but worth it

Its the last day of July, which means school is approaching. YIPPEE! Even as homeschoolers it's an exciting time. I clean all our bookshelves and declutter the art closet and drawers. I buy our workbooks (the kids literally cheer about this) for the up coming year and register for Classical Conversations. Everyone enjoys new crayons, markers, and folders...so I buy those. We have only homeschooled for a full year and 1/2 now, so I can't tell you when the excitement wears down, but it does. The great thing about homeschooling is I can schedule breaks anytime we like and we can get reenergized again! Its been an intense Summer (still is). A friend wrote a blog post about life being HARD, but still great...and she is so right! That has been my Summer. The little boys add an element that made it incredibly difficult to school at all this Summer...so we didn't! I know! *gasp* It was in the plans, but its ok. My plans are not God's plans and this Summer other things (like child training and play) were way more important than conquering math and cursive. HARD. Its all hard. The balance, the training, the new crazy Summer schedule, the new testing of limits that comes every few months...with each child! I had a woman ask me this week about homeschooling, Brett and I were very straightforward with her. We said things like, "its so hard, but its worth it," "you will never be ready to start," "the first six months I wondered what in the world I got myself into!"...all those things are true, but when God calls you and you are obedient...it works. It doesn't mean its easy, very few days are, but its worth it. There are things I wouldn't trade...cuddles with my kids while reading books, naps with them, watching that little light bulb go off when the finally understand, the excitement of learning, learning what they each enjoy and are eager to learn more about...it is great, but its hard. But when its hard, God shows up. He gets to show off his majesticness! (it's a word) I think he waits for us to crumble and humble ourselves so he can prove his faithfulness. Its also the time when we have to accept we can't do it on our own either (and even that's hard to admit).

Friday, July 24, 2015

Summer

Its been a crazy Summer. We have vacationed to Chicagoland area. We visited the pool. We have made new friends. I started an online Bible study (Hello Mornings) and then a friend asked me to do a book study with her, by my favorite author Linda Dillow! Honestly, I'm incredibly blessed. And I sit in awe of those blessings and the faithfulness of my Savior as the Summer is quickly nearing an end and its BACK TO SCHOOL!

Chicago was FUN! The kids earned FREE tickets to Six Flags through their reading program, and the weather was perfect! I typically highly dislike July in IL, if you like to breathe, you just can't! Its hot and humid and sticky...my Pastor says, "the air is like soup." And if anyone has ever been to Six Flags on a 90+ degree day...you know what I mean, BUT our day was not like that!  We had PERFECT weather and the kids had a wonderful time.  All the kiddos went on a roller coaster (without loops) for their first ride. Everyone was a big fan except Silas. Then Eli and I went on one WITH loops, we both said no to a second ride. Nuff said. Daddy and Eli went on a coaster too, and they both enjoyed it. I loved that Six Flags had lots of kiddie sections throughout the park. We all got super hero capes before we left!
We visited Lake Michigan, it was freezing, but fun. When we first arrived in Chicago we went to American Girl first. I wanted to see the store and experience the hype of it all. Z noticed we were going into the city and NOT towards Aunt Ashley's house and she declared, "Who is this American Girl anyways? I just want to go to Safina's!" Brett and I both giggled.  But once she stepped into the store, it clicked and she was in "heaven."  I was in shock.  She bought her doll a pair of glasses and some fake food, it was a pleasant experience.  Eli and the boys along with Daddy really enjoyed the Lego store next door, everyone got a little something and then we headed to Aunt Ashley's.  I will say...Chicagoland area has the BEST public parks EVER!  Our little town of Charleston, needs to step up their game.  We could have spent a whole day traveling to different parks...fun, fun, fun!

I love this picture, the lighting, the flowers, the people.

 My grandbaby Kenzley on the slide w/ Safina and Kenenisa
Lake Michigan!
 Super Heroes!
 Chicagoland area park!  Seriously fun!
 American Girl doll store!
 Before we entered Six Flags!
 My boys LOVED all the characters!
 Another city park. Brett is hanging and going around in circles!
 Lego Clone Tropper
K & Bugs!

Romans 12:2 "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

In a box

The past couple of weeks a friend has been reading through the book of Acts.  She has been studying the early church.  Encouraging me to take a look, and I have.

Yesterday I started a new Bible study on the books of James (God must have more for me because I just finished a James study a month ago).  Always more to learn...that's my perspective anyway. Today as I began day two of my new study...I'm reading ACTS!  God is neat like that!

I'm reminded today about how easy it is for us to stay in our comfortable little box. We want to hold onto Biblical law. We want justice at any price. A price higher than what Jesus has already paid. We impose that on ourselves and those around us. So did the people of long ago. Even the early church had "much debate." They wanted the law of circumcision obeyed. (Acts 15:1)  But God in all his GLORY had another plan. Peter reminded them that God cleansed their hearts by FAITH.  He also reminded them that they are ALL saved by grace, not by yokes that no one can bear.

Its so simple and yet so profound. God wanted to raise a "new" people.  He wanted to save ALL people and not by Biblical law or acts of works, but by FAITH and GRACE!

Are you in a box?  Can you step out of your box today and rest in the truth that God loves you right where you are at.  A broken sinner in need of a Savior.  No "circumcision" needed, just a complete surrender and acceptance of Jesus as your Lord and Savior.


Monday, June 22, 2015

A Visitor

Its been an incredibly rough week.  On Wednesday our cat Onyx was hit and killed by a car. I'm one of those people who kind of made light about pet death, but oh goodness how the Lord has changed me!  She was my son's cat, but my therapy cat. She woke me up every morning and greeted me in the driveway when I returned, she sat on my lap during my morning devotions and cried at the door to go chase a loud bird...she was very much a part of my everyday.  She is greatly missed.  We are grieving.  Please continue to pray for all of us.

On a different note...two nights ago I had just climbed into bed when Zahavah and I heard someone talking to our dogs outside.  I asked her to look outside and see, she said, "Momma, someone is in our yard!"  I'm already in bed, mind you...so I holler for Brett to go check it out.  I hear, "Hey little man."  I instantly change clothes and join them.

He is my children's age, on a mission.  He is chatty. He has a full set of keys on him, he is by himself. We sit on the front porch waiting for the police to arrive.  He is so full of energy, I talk quickly to keep his mind busy.

How old are you?  5
Where do you live? Over there.
Where is your parents? My mom is asleep
Where do you go to school?  blank stare. I start saying the public school names, and he picked one.
Who is your best friend? He answered...I forgot. (it was a little girl from school)
Who is your teacher? Ms. Fibbs (Bless your heart dear teacher).
What are you doing with those keys? I'm going to steal...I mean borrow a car.
What for? I'm going to Hoopston to see my Grandma.
Hoopston eh?  Thats kinda far away.  He says, "yes, do you know the way?" As he is trying to unlock my husband's car.

He doesn't seem to care, he knows what he wants.  He also wants to go to Wal-Mart.  He is five.
It was scary and funny all at the same time.  Praise God his mother finally arrived.  Praise God he was a little bit scared when the police talked with him.  Praise God he entered my backyard.

I think my Father looks at me kinda like I looked at that precious little boy. I think I know what I want, what is best for me, how to get from A to B.  And I go full throttle ahead with my game plan.  The Lord comes along side of me gently asking me questions and I have answers.  And yet...he is patient. He is NOT surprised by my stubborn streak or enthusiasm for life.

I know God's plan is ALWAYS better than mine.  I can trust his plan for my life, better than my own. All I need to do is be still, wait and listen for the Lord to instruct me.



Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Unchanged

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17"

Jamaica has come and gone.  I realize I didn't blog about it or post pictures (gasp).  Shortly after we arrived home, our grown child Micayla informed us that she moved her wedding from a year away to 2 1/2 weeks away!  I'm still trying to catch my breath as I type this and drink my coffee!

The verse above came in a mini booklet "Promises for Moms" that I received in the mail for my birthday yesterday.  Its the first one I opened and read, exactly what I needed at this very moment. Don't you just LOVE it when God works like that!?!

It's a promise.  Everything good and perfect thing is from him, Everything we have is a gift...our husbands, children, homes, every strawberry in the patch, the beautiful sunrise, the Spring rain, every breath...even the ones I'm still trying to catch. Gifts. Straight from our maker to us, to enjoy...everyday. Do you see your gifts?

HE does not change like shifting shadows. Like wedding dates, he DOES NOT change.  He is solid, steady, reliable, dependable.  What are the shadows lurking in your life?  Cancer, loss of a job, sick child, broken foot, failing marriage. There is reassurance in the presence of the Almighty. He is stronger than the shadows of this life.  The shadows come and go, they creep in and out, but God stays.  He promises He stays, unchanged.


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

My Day

This is really just a hoop-la post.  A peek into my day.  Today was the last Tues our Classical Conversations Community met for the year.  I think all the parents, students and tutors were ready for Summer break!  I know I sure am.  Which leaves me wondering what the Summer teaching looks like...if anything at all.  I was positive I would do cursive with both Z and E, and maybe I will, but a lot less structured than what I thought.  Seriously these are the little things that wonder throughout my head...all. day. long!!!!  All in all, all four children are doing very well in academics.  Even Silas has come a long way in speech this past year.  Him and K have a few more weeks...yippee!

The past two days have been GORGEOUS!  I can't stay inside when its this nice and there are no mosquitoes present.  I started a crazy flower garden project without my husband's help...I won't do that again.  Call me crazy but I was in flip flops and no gloves ripping out solid HARD sod.  Three hours...tiny patch = blister on thumb and sore feet.  What was I thinking?  I wasn't!!!!  He jumped in today and ripped out twice as much as I did yesterday in less than 1/4 of the time.  No wondering who the real gardener is in our family!  He really is handy.

I took Z to spend the $10 she won at the Skating rink.  She is so smart and wants to get the best bang for her buck!  She got THREE toys!  Two mini My Little Ponies and a bath Barbie with a dolphin.  It was really about the dolphin, she could care less for Barbie.

All my children LOVE to run barefoot in the warm weather.  None of my children LOVE to take showers or even wash their feet before bed.  YUCK!!!!  I got the sheer pleasure of washing Eli's feet in the sink.  I can't even begin to communicate how much I HATE feet, especially dirty feet.  I remember last Summer swearing that I was going to take all of them to get a Pedi and that it would be worth every penny spent.  Ya well, I dug all my little supplies out, clipped, scrubbed, washed and removed dirt (probably left over from last Summer) from under those cute little toes. The melt downs (mostly from the oldest boy) oh my, you would think I was going to cut his toe off!  Why won't they just wear shoes?  Will I really miss this part when they are grown up?  I'm not so sure.

Brett helped me get my strawberry plants covered this evening before he left for a meeting.  Its been on my to-do list for awhile, I refuse to share with the birds.  Call my selfish. I'm a lover of strawberries!  Then me and the kids cleaned up all the toys in the yard and then put them all away in the garage.  Exhausting. Did the rest of the evening chores including music practice.  (Z and E are both doing very well. Eli had a honors recital this past Sunday)  I was getting really tired.  All the kids had an ice cream after supper.  I remembered I had picked up some yummylicious Strawberry Coconut ice cream from Trader Joes when I was in Chicago.  Yum!  How could I forget???  I got all the kids cleaned up and tucked in to bed, and I made a bee line for the freezer...only to find it not there.  I then remembered I left it at my sister-in-law's.  sniff. sniff.  I really hope she enjoyed it.

So that is a small peek into my day.  Minus all the "crazy-losing-it-momma" moments I have when the kids run in and out the back door a million bazillion trillion times a day, for what you may be wondering???  A dwink.  I need a dwink.  A dwink.  Another dwink. Momma, I tursty, I need a dwink.  I think I will miss that!


Friday, April 24, 2015

Perfection

I have been up for 3 hours (its 7am now, naps are beautiful).  Waiting for the Lord to give me something to write about. As Brett was packing up for his River to River race, running around grabbing this and that, and all his stuff, I just sat here waiting and waiting for what I should write about! As he was ready to head out the door, he grabbed the Pineapple Upside Down Cake to take for food day at work.  And it hit me...perfection.
I have been working all week to perfect my pineapple upside down cake.  All week.  All I really want is to make a yummylious PERFECT Pineapple Upside Down Cake. Moist, definitely not dry! But I like the crust a little carmelized.  I even would like some slivers of pineapple throughout it, instead of just pretty rings and cherries on top.  Have you ever had a wonderful, delightful, PERFECT, Pineapple Upside Down Cake?  Ever?  Well, I THINK I have! I of course didn't make that cake, but I'm prettier sure I have had it. Maybe as a child, I don't know, but I know I have had.  I just can't seem to recreate it.
My life can be like that Pineapple Upside Down Cake!  I know what it should be like in my head. Well disciplined, God honoring and fearing, happy go lucky kids...perfect. A marriage with no disagreements or squabbles...perfect. Children eager and happy to be homeschooled...perfect. You get the picture. Easy peasy lemon squeezy right? Maybe your picture looks a bit different, but we all have a mental image of our hopes and dreams and what our  perfect little lives would be, could be, should be.
But let's be honest...its NEVER going to be PERFECT on this side of Heaven!  My kids are learning and growing and well, being kids! Just like my cake, they have a great foundation.  My marriage...its two broken sinful people learning to love one another and love like Jesus. Just like my cake, it takes just the right amount of extra heat to get it carmelized and sizzlin'. Just like my cake, life takes the right amount of ingredients...love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control to enjoy life at its fullest or should I say moisteee-est?

Enjoy the life God has blessed you with and have a piece of PERFECT cake now and then too.

Galatians 5:22


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A life long lesson

Let's talk about being content.  I know!  This past week facebook circulated a picture of an African Momma giving her barely alive and standing child, a drink from a huge water container.  His knees were knobs and a thin layer of skin covered his bones.  The picture stirs strong emotions in me.  I have seen this, in real life, in Africa. Many have not and can easily believe its not real and continue reading their fb posts and carry about their comfortable life unaffected.  Not me.  That picture burns into my brain. Not just that picture, but the real moments in my life too. 
While in Kenya we distributed food to many tribes. I have so many mental images of those beautiful people. Long lines of mothers and their children waiting in the scorching sun with any containers they could find to hold the grain.  Children crying because they were burning up with fever from malaria.  The little boy dying under a tree waiting for the medical team to arrive.  The child with the distended belly probably due to a nasty parasite or for sure, hunger.  The child picking up the leftover grain that spilled into the sand. And its not just in Africa!  Its also in my own backyard (yours too).  Our schools are sending home food bags for the weekend so children have enough food to get them through til they return to school on Monday. (How did we get here?  In a first world country!!  Perhaps that's another post)
And here I am.  In America, in my cozy warm house robe on my computer at 6 am drinking my warm coffee, thinking about contentment. What does it mean?  How does it work?  How do I know all of this, yet still struggle to be content?  Maybe you are waiting for me to give you the answer.  I don't have it.  I'm learning.  And relearning.
I'm learning to be thankful for what I do have.  I'm learning to give it to Jesus when I fall into a place of self absorption.  When I start believing the lie that happiness comes from more, or from "simple" perfection.  I must stop the insanity of it all and hand it over to Jesus.  He is the cup. He is enough.  That is where my hope comes from.  Your hope too.

Satan wants us to believe otherwise. He wants us to strive with all our might, to lose focus through our wasted efforts trying to obtain a falsehood of security. Buying the lie that we can achieve contentment through things of this world. His goal in life is to steal our contentment in Jesus Christ. Staying in a place of discontentment is lacking peace.  Not satisfied with Christ. 

Today I refuse to let Satan have a foothold in my heart.  I refuse to believe the lie that contentment comes from a false sense of security in anything other than Jesus. He is my cup. He is enough.
What steals your joy, your contentment?  Crying, rebellious children?  Lack of money? Broken relationships? Health issues?  Perfection? Will you embrace Jesus with me today and rest knowing that HE is enough?
Hebrews 13:5:   Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Content:
adjective
  1. 1.
    in a state of peaceful happiness.
    synonyms:contentedsatisfiedpleased, gratified, fulfilledhappycheerfulglad;
    unworrieduntroubled, at ease, at peace, tranquilserene







Saturday, April 4, 2015

A New Day is Coming

     This day many many years ago he was in a tomb.  Betrayed.  Rejected.  Mocked. Flogged. Pierced. Crucified. Abandoned.  It happened to the King of Kings, Lord of Lords.  No worries, I promise you He didn't stay there.  The HUGE rock they put in front of the cave didn't stop our Savior. Today He is on His thrown in glory patiently awaiting our arrival.

     But in the meantime...life can be hard.  Right?  Painful.  Ya?   Have you felt what Jesus felt from close friends and family?  We haven't carried a cross dripping with our own blood (although some may argue it feels as though they have), but are you carrying your burdens?  Have you been rejected?  Abandoned?  I know I have.  It hurts.  Its heavy. Sometimes more than I can bear. In your suffering do you relate, connect with our Savior?  He knows our heartache.  He knows our deepest thoughts, concerns, longings, and fears.  Just as His Father knew His from the Garden to the Cross.  Our Savior wasn't alone in His battle.  His Father didn't abandon Him, although it must have felt as if He did...remember Jesus cried out, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?".  He knew.  He knew what His Son would encounter at every single crossroad.  Just as our Father knows for us.  He knows we have been betrayed, rejected, abandoned, He knows our every heartache and pain.  I don't know about you, but I find comfort in that.  I'm NOT alone. I'm not facing anything near as heavy as what my Father suffered.  And its in that moment I grab a hold of Him and find...solace.  Peace.  A breath of fresh air.  His compassion.  My Savior, my redeemer, my Father.  Rest.

     Please take sometime today to sit and cling to our Savior.  Let His promises sink in.  We are NOT alone in our suffering. (Satan will try to convince us otherwise) God knows. Let him bottle up every tear. Let him hold your heart in the palm of His hand, as you let go of your pain.  Give it all to Him. He is strong enough to carry it ALL, let Him.  He can.  He has experience and I promise you its nothing He can't handle. (remember THE CROSS).  

     A new day is coming.  HAPPY EASTER!



Some verses to meditate and memorize:


Matthew 11:28-29New International Version (NIV)

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Romans 8:37-39
No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Psalm 56:8New King James Version (NKJV)

You number my wanderings;
Put my tears into Your bottle;
Are they not in Your book?



PS: my previous post is one of my favorite songs by Citizen Way, have a listen.  :)


Citizen Way - How Sweet the Sound (Official Lyric video)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

1st broken bone of my 5 children!

Oh goodness...my once a month post was nearing a deadline!  I truly want to blog every week, but time just doesn't allow that to happen.  Sometimes I think in blog, it sounds like this "If I was to blog today I would talk about the crushed barbie I walked over in the road today, because some days that is how I feel!" or "today I would write about the man at church who commented on my large family and how much laundry I must do and when I asked him if he would like to come help sometime...he said no he already put his time in as a parent and did laundry, but he could give me money to take it to the laundry mat"  or "today I would write about Silas' broken arm and the freak trampoline accident (true story) and how we spent hours in the hospital and how God was faithful....ok so that is what I will write about tonight.

Last Wednesday was homeschool gymnastics day!  WoooHooo...so fun!  Friends, lots of friends...running, jumping, bouncing all in one big room with an awesome gymnastics coach and cool beams, bars, tramps etc.  My two littles Si & K are usually at public school during this time but it was Spring Break, so they went with us.  They love the long tramp and jumping into the foam pit.  And had we just stayed there, all would have been smooth sailing but instead we went to the extra bouncy trampoline.  Not the type you have in your backyard.  No this beast shoots you FEET into the air.  Silas has never been great on his feet anyway, and I had just shared that with the Momma next to me.

 Minutes later my little man went up and came down, landing ON THE TRAMPOLINE, but also ON HIS ARM.  He cried. I thought for sure he dislocated his shoulder based upon the way he landed. I saw it all... Neck hyper extended, shoulder pushed down.  I picked up my baby.  He was whiny, not screaming.  I took him to the coach who looked it over and suggested taking him for an X-Ray.  (I wondered while driving one block to the ER if THAT location to build the gym was perfectly thought out!)  In my mind we are gonna jump in, get it popped back in and be on our way.  NOT.WHAT. HAPPENED!  We got right into the ER, but...

 (warning small rant)...why, oh why do they feel the need to take blood pressure and weight with a child crying out in pain???  Hellloooooo!  (don't comment and tell me why, I really don't care...I know its protocol, but its still ridiculous).  Within an hour they gave him morphine and confirmed it was indeed broke.  And by this time, you could also see it poking out above his elbow.  And he was crying, scared and just wanted Daddy.

Brett was on his way to the hospital by this time.  I'm a weenie and don't do hospital visits or doctor visits by myself with four kids.  Its ok, I have come to accept this of myself.  Not an area I'm strong in.  But Brett also doesn't do broken bones well!  Having had broken SEVEN of his own during his lifetime, its understandable.  He is texting "I can't do this!"  I finally tell him he is gonna have to man up because this is HIS child!!!!  Who has been crying for him since I picked him up off the trampoline!  We team it so good together, cause I don't do IVs!  Brett stays with him for that and I stay with him for the temporary set.  Its perfect!  God is GOOD!

Not only was God good is teaming Brett and I together as awesome parents and that Si's arm was only broken and not broken through the skin seeping blood, but he was also GOOD in providing 2 wonderful Christian homeschooling Mommas to step up to the plate to watch my other two kids (who were still at gymnastics).  These two God sends are so sweet.  They kept my older two kiddos the better part of the day.  Fed them, prayed over Silas with them gave them toys and company with their little friends...it was wonderful!  AND while I took K with me to the cafeteria to grab lunch, God dropped another angel in our lap who paid for all of our lunch!  I hadn't felt so much love from other Mommas in a long time.

After the IV and arm were set, it was then time to wait for the doctor....and we all know how this goes!  They operate on a different clock than the rest of the world.

I went home with K and we grabbed an hour nap before the other kids came home.  We all had supper together and then a wonderful couple offered to stay with all three kids and put them to bed, so I could be at the hospital when Si came out of surgery.  No one offers to do this for free...ever!

Si finally went in for surgery at 4:35pm.  The Doc was GREAT.  Well known in our area and has a good reputation for his work.  He answered my questions and Si was recovering very well.  We were all home by 8pm.

God was faithful.  God was merciful.  God was kind, rather generous really.  It wasn't at all the day I had planned, but it was the day God had planned.  Isaiah 55:8  "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. And Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  These verses filter through my head as I sit in my messed up, unplanned day!
Here are two pics, I hope to post the one of Si and Brett soon...it is precious (its on my phone).  God Bless.



Monday, February 16, 2015

Rest

Its Monday.  Mondays are always rough.  Gettin back into the swing of things...homeschooling, messes from the weekend, a pile of laundry that is screaming my name...life.  Today I have a head cold and the earth is covered in a blanket of white.  Its freezing outside.  I'm content to stay inside ALL day.  I'm takin it easy...drinkin coffee and listenin to HighRoad "Angel at the crossroads" CD...lovin it!  I'm reflecting on the weekend we had.  In spite of head colds we still had our Valentines Day Party.  Our first one as homeschoolers.  Feb 14th marked one year to the day that we brought our children home to be with us all the time, to be educated here at home.  One of the scariest but most rewarding and challenging things we ever did.  We celebrated Valentines Day with two homeschool families that are near and dear to us.  We talked about that day one year ago and how it was the best decision for our family. We chatted over yummy sweets, played a few games with 15 wonderful kiddos (and legos and dolls), took some fun silly photos, laughed and smiled and ate lunch together.  We were encouraged.

Yesterday at church...I was so blessed!   As I walked into church I spotted his tiny little precious face....a boy I once knew.  He was just a baby, but dearly loved and cared for through foster care. He is nine now.  Interesting how God crosses paths in life.

I'm reminded how faithful God is. In the midst of pain and suffering and confusion He is here.  The battle is won. And yet this side of heaven is anything but pain free. I get sad when I think about kiddos without a mommy or daddy because of death, cancer or neglect etc.  The bondage of addiction and the pain it causes. Satan's lies to seek and destroy.  But the battle is WON! It is FINISHED. There is victory in His truths.  I wanna rest in that...peace.

Hebrews 13:8  "Jesus Christ IS the same yesterday and today and forever."









Saturday, January 17, 2015

Community Service 101

Homeschooling creates opportunities for me and my children that a public education would not (or not as easily).  A couple months ago I decided to pursue (more diligently) opportunities to cultivate compassion in the hearts of my children. Its not mad science, children are not born compassionate creatures.  Compassion must be taught and learned. I desire my children to be compassionate. More is taught through seeing than hearing, and even more so through DOING. 

In November our church presented the opportunity to to deliver food baskets. Brett and I agreed this would be a fun family adventure (nothing more, nothing less) but this is where the idea was born. My children were able to see and do.  They were able to see what "being the hands and feet of Jesus" is. Our Pastor closes Sunday service with "Let's go be the hands and feet of Jesus." Hearing this is not foreign to them.  As part of their school routine I decided to implement a community service project once a month.  My goal was to create opportunity for them to be a blessing to others and learn compassion. I trusted the Lord to provide safe, fun, secure, outreach projects that me and my children could do together. 

December came and went so fast that, well honestly, it just didn't happen. But God was working because it was during that time I was at Standing Stone (a local community center that aims to provide assistance to families and individuals in need of food, clothing, households etc, ran by Ms. Dawn) searching the books, like I do every month, that an opportunity was born.  My kids love going to Standing Stone and they love books.  I asked Ms. Dawn if she would be ok with us coming and donating our time to Standing Stone. She happily agreed and I was so thankful.

Yesterday was our first day. We were going to arrange, sort and organize books. We started here at home. Heart check. I wanted to make sure our hearts were in the right place.  No boasting, no doing it to puff ourselves up or to make us look good, or to get something etc. I sat my children down and I asked them, "We are going to be a blessing, so how should our attitudes be? Why are we going to help Ms. Dawn?" I was blown away by their answers!  Eli said, "to give God glory, and we should be happy."  Zahavah said, "to help Ms. Dawn and love others, be cheerful."  None of it was prompted or talked about before we sat down, not in relation to this project. Sure we talk often about why we help others, but I didn't "get," that they GET IT until we sat and did a heart check before we left. Note to self...Always do heart check, especially my own.

Life and its opportunities are not cookie cutter perfect, not by a long shot. We had a great time helping Ms. Dawn, but I learned a lot too.  I learned that cultivating compassion takes time and patience. Both of my children did great, but attention spans are short. Little Miss. Z just couldn't handle more than an hour, she was DONE. She got tired and her spirit changed. It was ok, really. She is young and needed a break. I'm confident she will grow. I'm confident she will work through being ok with the books toppling over and not staying up as she would like. What a great place to handle such frustrations! And I'm their to guide her, offer a break and grace. God is molding her! Eli was in heaven. He is just like his Momma...loves books, arranging, organizing..as long as they are not his own! :)  He didn't want to leave, he wanted to stay and come back every week. He was in his soft sweet spot, a place that feels so comfortable and peaceful time flies by too quickly.

I thank God for these opportunities.  I thank God that I am their Momma. I thank God that I am there and can steer them in the right direction and present them with moments of grace and discipline. I love being their Mom, their helper, their encourager.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

8 yrs ago today...

Its January 5th, 2007 6pm in the evening.  My dear friend Elisha Houk-Farmer is shooting some fantastic pictures of me and my fantastically huge belly.  I'm due any day, a boy!  I always dreamed of having a son. Elisha knows how to work magic, she is draping me, turning me, adding Brett into a couple shots.  You wouldn't know it, but this is her FIRST pregnancy shoot.  I talked her into it because I wanted these pictures so bad...and I trusted Elisha to deliver something beautiful.  This wouldn't be the last family photo shoot with Elisha, but it would be the last one with me in labor! She noticed my face turning red, and asked if I was ok.  Sure!  I was having a blast.  Who knew you could be in labor and have a great time shooting pics?  She was more concerned about me than the pictures...gasp!  :)  I insisted I was fine and that we keep shooting.  Three hours later we finished the shoot and I told Brett that we were indeed in labor.  He panics a bit.  Hustles and bustles about and we head to Champaign.  Its close to midnight. I think.  We are so relieved that we got the pics taken. We let Elisha know we were on our way to the hospital, we all laughed a bit. And then it all starts to happen so fast. Its so exciting...the arrival of a precious fragile life. Hand knit by God with the best parts of me, and the best parts of Brett and the wonder of our Majestic creator.
He is beautiful.  Every finger and toe accounted for. And his Daddy's earlobes...I love those ears. The perfect all natural birth, made possible by our fantastic midwife. Its in those moments...when everything collides into perfection, hand orchestrated only by our heavenly Father that I rejoice in his faithfulness.  He is so good to us.  We truly are blessed beyond measure.  HAPPY 8TH BIRTHDAY ELI DANIEL FREY!









January 6th, 2007 at 2:11am
7 pounds 8 oz.  19.5 inches long.
Midwife: Cathy Hinton